WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT
After completing his study at Cambridge, Talbot continued his work in mathematics, and during the same period Talbot’s interests in chemistry and optics quickened, and he gradually adopted a unified, dynamic view of physical phenomena. The early nineteenth century witnessed the adoption and modification of new theoretical frameworks in chemistry and optics. The discovery of many new substances stimulated increasing concern with chemical composition and structure, while the wave theory of light posed problems with dispersion, absorption, photochemical reaction, and other forms of light-matter interaction. It was with the development of photography that Talbot’s love of nature and landscapes merged with his interests in optics and photochemistry. by 1835 they were able to obtain “negatives’ by employing tiny camera obscuras and paper sensitized with excess silver nitrate and fixed with excess common salt. Between 1835 and 1839, Talbot and [his assistant] continued their experiments, motivated by a desire for an analytic tool for research on radiant heat and light, as well as by a desire for reproducing images from nature. Although Talbot’s photographic efforts did not meet with major commercial success and, because of his efforts to enforce his patents, did not win him popular acclaim, his paper on the calotype did bring him the honor of the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society (1842) for the most outstanding piece of research on light during the previous two years. In the middle 1840’s he published two of the earliest books illustrated with photographs. In 1852 he patented and published a method of photoengraving called photoglyphy.
Adapted from: "Talbot, William Henry Fox." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 13, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008.
Talbot, William Henry Fox. The Pencil of Nature. Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, 1844
Fox Talbot, William Henry. "Sketches of Eminent Photographers." The British Journal of Photography, vol. XI, no. 222, 1864
Talbot, William Henry Fox. "Nurse and Two Children with Toy Hay Cart." Photographs from the National Media Museum, Primary Source Media, 1842
Talbot, William Henry Fox. "Copy of a Translation of a Hieroglyphic Tablet." Photographs from the National Media Museum, Primary Source Media, 1845